Josh counting his Blessings

Josh McClorey's upcoming four-track EP will coincide with release of its final track ‘When Men were Men’.

In an ideal world Josh McClorey would be sitting to do this interview at Blessings Bar in Cavan Town. Where better than the very pub that shares its name, and in many ways inspired the singer-songwriter’s forthcoming EP, due out March 26.

Between the clinking of glasses and banter of the bartender, that soft hoppy smell dense in the air, a quieter spot would naturally be found, colonising one of the dark-stained wooden corners illuminated only by age-speckled lights overhead.

But right now is not ideal, and lockdown still looms large - something Josh as an emerging solo artist is all too aware of.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year already,” chokes Josh down the phone, time having elapsed in rolling lockdowns and blunt health announcements, swallowed away in an instant.

Photo by Chucky Finnegan, Eyes Wide Open Photography

When the Celt spoke to Josh nearly 12 months previous, he had only just returned to Cavan from London, fortuitously escaping right before border crossings became a ‘no-go’ as Covid spread like gossip in a klatch.

In a post-Strypes universe, Josh nestled down in the city’s leafy north west hoping to make the most of being close to fellow creatives and use the location as a springboard from which to launch his music career.

The Swellan native has also just released his first track as a solo-artist, a dulcet cover of The Beatles’ ‘Across The Universe’, under his side-project YABOYA.

A self-declared product of growing-up in Cavan Town, it would be six months more before Josh dug out a tune under his own name, the eye-opening and ear-caressing croon, ‘Everything was Easy’.

Back to his roots

The upcoming four-track EP will coincide with release of its final track ‘When Men were Men’.

“I think the thing that really connects all the songs on the EP is timing - when I wrote them, and the place I was then. That’s a big reason the EP is called ‘Blessings’ too. All of that is based around my experiences living in Cavan and the people I spent that time with.”

Accompanying the EP, Josh will upload a series of live versions of each of the songs, all filmed at Blessings Bar.

The recordings will sit side-by-side with an exclusive podcast series of interviews Josh has done with artists he has worked with in the past, like fellow singer-songwriter Orla Joan Gartland and English actor Louis Oliver Hynes, of Netflix series ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ fame and in the music video for ‘Everything Was Easy’.

“Because the EP is a kind of an homage to the pub, the single cover was shot there, it was great to get in there and record those live versions. Terry Brady came in at one stage and played harmonica on ‘Everything Was Easy’. But other than that, it was like being in school at night, with no one there. It was a strange experience,” he recalls.

‘Blessings’ will have a physical release as well, on the unusual format of 10-inch vinyl, that will be available to pre-order on March 26 also.

Creative process

As a creative process ‘Blessings’ saw Josh embrace a lion’s share of the recording workload. Hours were spent at a laptop musing over measurements and audio profiles.

He admits to having a “point to prove” by doing things his own way - as much to himself as anyone else.

A new track recently released online by Josh, not on the upcoming EP, is the embodiment of what he’s been up to during lockdown, holed away in the shed at the bottom of the garden. It’s there he penned and then recorded ‘Lucid’ - it’s DIY music at its most primal, and an indicator of how Josh continues to grow in confidence as an artist.

“I think I’m more confident...,” he says, before cutting back as the irony of what he’d just said begins to dawn.

Laughing, he answers again: “It took me a second to be confident even about answering that. But definitely, yeah, I feel more confident in myself. Now I’m at the stage I know myself what I want out of it, but more importantly maybe, what I don’t want... I think, once you know that, once you’re doing something you love and are happy with what you’re doing, everything else has a way of falling into place.”

Follow-up EP

Despite the immanency of ‘Blessings’, Josh has already completed work on a follow-up EP.

“That’s just the way it is. With no gigs to play, your outlet as an artist right now is online. I kind of like that about what I’m doing at the moment. I’ve stuff sitting on my laptop, and ultimately I’m at the helm of this, so I’ve got the choice to make.

“I’m running six or seven months ahead of myself really. I’m excited about ‘Blessings’, of course I am, and I’ll savour the moment, but I’m ready to move onto the next thing. I’m trying to make things feel like they did when I started making music. Everything finds its place, and over-thinking release dates or how it’ll be perceived, that’s all secondary to what I’m about right now.”

Photo by Chucky Finnegan, Eyes Wide Open Photography

Since the Celt spoke with Josh last week, he has since jetted back across the Irish Sea.

Under Boris Johnson’s promises, with the UK looking at ways of reopening for the Summer quicker than perhaps Ireland, Josh sees more scope for potential employment.

As part of that, Josh will relocate to Brighton, which over the years has earned an international reputation as an homely enclave for artistic types.

“I’ll be gone out of the country for a few months. [Brighton] is like Galway, that’s what someone said to me the other day. I’ve a few friends down there as well so it’ll be nice a change of scenery too after lockdown here.

“I’ll be working on things from there for the next while. I had my studio in London, so it’s a case of just moving my things really, setting all back up, and picking up where I left off.”